Tonight’s (August 13) episode of Who Do You Think You Are? was one of the most harrowing and heartbreaking to date.
Robert Rinder, star of Judge Rinder and Strictly Come Dancing, traced his family history back to Poland, where he learned the extent of the horrors the Jewish community suffered at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Returning to where his grandfather Morris used to live, the TV star learned the names of Morris’ sisters for the first time, on what would have been his birthday.
Rinder also discovered the slave labour factories Jewish prisoners were forced into to produce munitions for the war effort, while overlooking the train lines to the death camps.
He then spoke to Sir Ben Helfgott – a man who survived the camps alongside his grandfather – who gave him a first-hand account of just how it felt to be a prisoner of war in those times.
Visiting a former SS office, Morris changed his birthday to pretend to be a minor, ensuring he got taken to Great Britain after his rescue.
Following the story to Windermere in the Lake District, Rinder spoke to another survivor about how children’s lives were changed after coming to the UK.
Switching gears, the star traced the history of his great-grandfather on the other side, Israel Medalyer, who served in the King’s rifle regiment and hailed from Latvia. He suffered from shellshock, and was admitted to a mental health hospital later in life.
Viewers found the episode a very tough, upsetting watch, but agreed that it was so important to continue telling the story of the Holocaust to ensure that the same horrors aren’t repeated.
Who Do You Think You Are? continues next Monday (August 20) at 9pm with paralympian Jonnie Peacock.
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